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Frugal mamas, share your favorite tips!

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 
Its been a while since we have had one of theses threads! So lets have a tribe or chat!

Intro yourself and share your 5 favorite frugal tips that has benefited your family.
post #2 of 59
HI....
Im a single mom to a great 9 yr old DS.... right now my only income is unemployment and FS

1. THE LIBRARY - we love this place, did you know you can borrow books, movies, magazines, for free LOL

2. Coupons - I know not everyone likes them or finds them as useful as I do but with coupons and stockpiling I can save 50-75% off my grocery bill

3. I apply for financial aid for DS for almost every activity he wants to enroll in. Most programs have this aid available for families that qualify, just need to ask and fill out the form.

4. I meal plan around my stockpile and grocery sales for produce and fresh items

5. While its exactly 'frugal', its part of my 'life plan'. Every day I get up and LOOK FOR EMPLOYMENT. If I don't look, If I don't talk to people, I won't find employment. When we are at the library, I check the bulletin board, I may even talk to the person next to me. I chat with the person in line with me at the grocery store ...I look online, I keep up my email contacts... Its not fun, it gets depressing, But SOMETHING has to come of all this.
post #3 of 59
Hi I am IO and am looking to be more frugal. I don't know if I can get 5 tips- but I will try.

1. stay home. we live on a farm in the boonies- so it is like 45 minutes to the nearest shopping town. We go there for church on sundays and wednesdays so I don't go other than those times (usually). The more I stay home the less money I spend.

2. Learn to make do. Like if we run out of juice or something. Oh well- we aren't making a special trip. (We never run out of milk since we have a cow)

3. Defrost meat randomly. We butcher our own beef and I am kind of stingy with the steaks. If I have some thawed in the fridge on friday we are much less likely to 'go on a date' and blow $40 on steaks since we can grill them better than the restaurant anyway.

4. This one will apply probably to no one else- but it saves me hundreds! Feed my chickens free weed seed from my screenings. We screen our organic grain and the weed seed makes for awesome broilers. And the best part? Free!

5. Garage sale. I only go about 2x/year- but when I do I hit a couple of towns worth of city wides. And I spend about $80- but I come home with kids clothes- like for the whole year. Totally worth it. the only time I buy new is when it is jeans for like$1.47 at target or something.
post #4 of 59
Well, I am new to this but I will try for the 5:

1) We don't own a car. We go out once a week with a relative to go grocery shopping. No car means we don't go out and spend any money.
2) We don't ever eat out.
3) We also use the library for books/movies, etc.
4) I grocery shop at the cheaper stores like Aldi and Walmart and I buy almost all generic.
5) I rent movies from Netflix and watch them all on the computer so I can have their cheapest plan.
post #5 of 59
Don't forget Amy, you have to post yours, too.

Thanks for starting another one. I enjoy these threads, as even if the tips don't work for your family, they get you thinking.

1. Check to see if your area has an Entertainment Coupon Booklet. These cost up-front (about $25), but you can save hundreds on restaurants, activities, movies, pizza take-out, sports, fun centers, etc. We've had ours only 2 months and we've used almost $150 worth of coupons.

2. Make your own soap. (Yep, I still stand by this one). Not only is in inexpensive, but it's also better for your skin.

3. If it's not too late, start your seeds for your garden (it's not where I live, zone 5). Saves so much money if you don't wait and put in purchased starts. To go along with that, I've been reading that many towns and cities are creating community gardens where you can get a garden plot assigned to you for free to grow your own food. In my town, they even make sure there is water for irrigation... all you have to do is put the plants/seeds in and keep it tended.

4. Learn to cook a new bean dish. Beans are so inexpensive and they can be REALLY tasty. Combine with rice and you have a complete meal.

5. Check out your county's homemaker's extension office to see if they have any free classes or groups to learn a new skill (sewing, knitting, crocheting, gardening, canning, etc.).

6. I know this may not apply to many here, but if you are over 50, you are often considered a "senior citizen" already. Don't forget to ask for discounts. I'm not quite there yet, but dh is 55 and gets things like coffee for free and often 20% off his meals when we're out.
post #6 of 59
1) Breastfeed! I calculated the other day how much money it would be to have DS on formula and it was easily $150 a month! Plus breastfeeding has tons of health benefits.

2) Baby-led solids. We do a few homemade purees here and there, but baby food is ridiculously priced! It's just easier to feed DS what we are eating.

3) I don't "dumpster dive" per say, but each evening I take a walk around the neighborhood. The things people put outside the dumpsters to throw out blows my mind. If I can't use it, I still take it and donate it to the local thrift store. The other night I found a wagon that DS can use when he's older-I looked it up online and it retails for over $100! Other than being a little dirty (which a pressure wash will fix), not a single thing was wrong with it.

4) Go to the local farmer's market. I need to get better about this one now that the weather is better. Our local grocery has terribly expensive produce-I might pay $1.00 for a single pepper. At the market, I can get a bag of them for $1.50. Plus, they are fresher.

5) We don't "keep up with the Joneses." DS has a few toys, a basic (but cute) wardrobe. I drive an eight year old nice small SUV, we've taken care of it so it looks and runs great. DH drives a 17 year old car to and from work-a two mile commute. We save a ton on insurance, which is really high in this area.

One more...

6) We eat at home. We only eat out on special days or if we are on vacation. If we do eat out, we'll go do sushi or something that I can't (or won't) make at home. Why would we go pay $10 each for a burger and fries that we can do at home for a fraction of that? Plus, we eat healthier and I know what's going into our food. Our initial grocery bill is higher, but we save in the long run.
post #7 of 59
1) Keep the plastic at home. It's so easy to just top things up using debit or get more than you truly need when you can just swipe a card. I've been doing so good with this lately and this week I've fallen off the wagon a couple of times.

2) Send DH to the store for 1 or 2 things. He's much more matter-of-fact when shopping. If I send him with a list of 5 things he'll come back with those 5 things. If I go I'll come back with those 5 things, plus a few treats, and some other things we were getting short on....

3) Line Dry

4) Keep the house tidy and purge. If I'm feeling good about our space, I'm less likely to bring frivolous cr@p into it.

5) Tap our own maple tree out front, wash our own cars in the driveway, mend clothing, grow our own berries...just do what you can yoursleves, it all adds up!
post #8 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Don't forget Amy, you have to post yours, too.
.
How could I forget? VC always has my back to remind me! LOL

BTDT, have done in past:

Breast fed. duh, already been said!

made own baby food 90% of the time. A bag of organic sweet potatoes is about $3-6 depending on location etc. I would bake them, clean out of skins, add a bit of water and grind up. Made at least 4 weeks worth of baby food and it was yummmeee.

did cloth diapers. I found this to be less work and I paid around $275 for my dipes that I used for 2 1/2 years. They more than paid for themselves. I had a friend offer me money for them for her dd and I just gave them to her, I could not accept money for those! Her dd outgrew them and now her niece is using them.

Told to me by other mdc mamas:

throw a dry towel or laundry balls in the dryer. Clean out vent area frequently. This has cut down the time by more than 3/4.

use 1/4 of the detergent recommended. The clothes actually are cleaner when they come out.

use vinager in place of fabric softener.

freecycle have given things new homes and received many nice items including a trundle bed under dd2's bed, a load of sand, mulch and many weird items such as a sheet of drywall needed for a smaller project, about 2 dozen certain nails.

pantry challenges, love em!

My own ideas:


track grocery spending. Amazing how much you save while doing this.

menu plan. I have done it for years and it helps us tremedously. We keep a calendar page on the fridge. We pencil in dinner ideas for the week. At least every other week we change things around but it beats having 5pm come around and not have any ideas for dinner. It also helps to save on grocery.

Library, of course everyone is catching on to my secret! With the higher unemplyment right now, there are several more people there than normally on the pcs etc. I have had to reserve several books over the last year because of people using this resource. I read several books monthly so in order to not run my house over with books or pay for them, I use this great place!
post #9 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
How could I forget? VC always has my back to remind me! LOL

use vinager in place of fabric softener.


See, this one got me thinking about one I forgot to mention.

- Use vinegar in your dishwashing rinse instead of the Jet Dry to get spot-free glasses. It works for the dishes similarly to the way it works in laundry... to counteract the hardness in water.
post #10 of 59
library. i know so many people have said this but we lived for a year without internet or a computer and used the library computers. wasn't easy but saved a LOT! And we rent books and movies all the time. when I have an hour I need to kill I go sit and read a magazine there too.

used to cloth diaper and breastfeed. Saved thousands of dollars. We still use nighttime cloth diapers for the 2 year old and just toss them in with the kitchen cloth and the family cloth in the bathroom and it easily saves us $25 a month.

unplug things not in use. we have a dryer but haven't used it in forever so i't snot plugged in. My laptop is not plugged in unless it needs to be charged and then it's unplugged again. saves a LOT

line drying. Our electric bill dropped $25 per month when we started line drying. We've done it exclusively for almost 3 years now and it's just routine and easy now and saves us SO much money. hundreds of $$ over the full year.

use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. makes you think about your needs vs your wants. we save a ton of money thinking this way. my girls don't NEED 10 pairs of jeans so why pick up that cute pair that's only $5? it's $5 I don't have to spend. We can easily roll up the sleevs on the 5 year old's shirt to fit the 2year old in a pinch so she doesn't NEED a pink shirt to go with the skirt given to us by a friend.

repurpose and upcycle things. that broken ugly old dresser on the side of the road can be repainted and made gorgeous for very little money or even free sometimes. my entire house is full of furniture that was scavenged from other people.
post #11 of 59
1. Pack a lunch. For errands, going to the zoo, or going to the park this saves us a ton of money and calories. I pack bentos to keep it fun and interesting. Dh's little (from big brother) loves my lunches and will eat anything in there.
2. I buy sturdy, well made furniture and refinish it. I'm able to turn a cast off into something cute for less then press board furniture.
3. Shop the thrift store! I'm spoiled for other stores now. I find so many pieces of brand name clothing for less then walmart duds!
4. We use our coins for bonus treats. We turn them in once a month and buy giftcards from coinstar (no fee for giftcards). That way we can still drink our loved starburcks, and it does not effect our budget.
5. I ship my target prices. If i can get 6 jars of peanut butter for $1 i stock up. I love having a full pantry.

I love reading everyone's tips. Its fun to see how other people handle the situation even if its not the way you do something.
post #12 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
- Use vinegar in your dishwashing rinse instead of the Jet Dry to get spot-free glasses. It works for the dishes similarly to the way it works in laundry... to counteract the hardness in water.
Like I said, she has my back! I HATE the jet dry and havent found a good replacement either earth friendlier or anything. Its also on empty. Just filled with fresh distilled vinagar I bought for laundry.

-Another more mindful as well as saving: start a compost bin or heap. We during the winter months have a large heap of composting non meat related kitchen stuff going in our veggie garden plot. We keep a canister on the counter and throw fruit peels, extra clippings etc in. also paper towels, coffee grinds. It goes in the compost heap. It eliminates so so much garbage and helps put those great things right back into the ground.

-rain barrel(s) we bought one for $80 and received $80 back from our village hall for installing it. We plan on doing another this year. Also, they started a compost bin rebate. DH is anxious to jump on that. I think my big pile is fine, but since it wont cost us anything and its fun to compost, I am game.

-utility and telecom audit. call your companies, find out about deals, rebate plans, whatever to trim your bill.
post #13 of 59
Some have already been said.

Breastfeed, homemade baby food, cd

Family cloth, wipes, hankies, napkins, towels, pads & diva cup, avoiding paper products when possible.

Homemade cleaners, mostly vinegar & BS

Using no poo or low poo, or CO, making natural deodorant

Front loading washer, line drying

Updating appliances to energy star when they need replacing

Being very conscious of energy, teaching kids to turn off lights, full loads of laundry & dishes. Keep a freezer for stock up sales, fishing & hunting.

Scratch cooking/baking, eat nutrient dense foods, meal planning based on sales/what you have on hand, using everything as your great grandma would have, like saving veggie scraps & chicken bones in freezer, make stock when there's enough = free. Composting for the garden

Garden

Eat at home, packing snacks/lunches & waters when out & about

Make yogurt, kefir & kombucha

Bulk bins, dried beans, rice, oats, quinoia, raisins, nuts

Drink water

Start a frontier coop

Get into group purchasing

Coupons, online & in the paper- even if you don't want to use for food, you can still use for playing the CVS game, for other needs like tooth brushes & razors, which end up free!

Freecycle

Craigslist

Thrift shopping

Clearance shopping

Restaurant.com only when I get 80% off codes for planned meals out & vacation meals out

Swagbucks

Always think ahead, buying things on clearance & stashing them for birthdays or Christmas

Always research before purchasing, for internet purchases search for coupon codes, compare prices & don't forget to compare shipping. In store check for printable % off coupons, clearances, & compare prices. I just got a new appliance for 1/3 the price.

Barter- babysit for your hairdresser, clean for your dentist etc.

When grandparents ask for B-day/Christmas lists, we ask for things that enrich their lives like memberships to museums, music lessons, state park passes, YMCA memberships, park & rec activities. It ensures your kids have some great activities that you might not have been able to afford otherwise & your house doesn't fill up with stuffed animals or other had to have fad toys that they lose interest in very quickly!
post #14 of 59
Hi there! I'm in FL and I don't have kids yet but hope to soon.

I am looking to save more money. Here are the few things that I already do:

-Like previous posters, I love taking advantage of my local library! I use the interlibrary loan system all the time to get books that I want to read but that my branch doesn't have in stock.

-Tash-piling. Or, dumpster-diving-- although I have only rarely actually gotten in a dumpster, and not since I was a teen! I find good stuff that other people throw out by the side of the road, and even if I don't want it, I'll often pick it up and either try to sell it or at least drop it at a charity shop. Best finds so far: a $100 bill (folded up and slipped into a small box-- this was in a bunch of bagged "trash" from a woman in my neighborhood who died. Oftentimes, when older people die thier families will just throw everything they don't want out by the side of the road, and you can find some real gems! literally!), vintage pyrex, a box of vintage bakelit xmas lights that I sold on ebay for $96, and lots of clothes that I still wear.

- I pack my lunch every day. This may not be much to the other frugal folks on here, but I'm the only one at my workplace that doesn't go out to eat most days!

- We make a lot of our own household and beauty products-- like deodorant, cleaners, face wash, and laundry soap.

- grow some of our own food. This is so extremely satisfying when it works out! And even if the crop turns out poorly, it's always fun and nice to be outside for a bit. if I only had windowsills i would at least grow herbs in pots.

- use cloth pads and diva cup. I'm also starting to experiment with family cloth.

- I pretty much only drink water and herbal teas that I mix and make myself from bulk herbs. Sometimes I buy a jug of unsweeteened cranberry juice and mix about 2 tablespoons with my glass of water, for variety when I'm at work.

I have tried to use retailmenot.com when I'm making online purchases.

Our food bills are currently the thing we spend the most on, and I'd love to keep working on getting those down. We only buy organic food, and that gets expensive in our area... Growing more of our own is the answer!
post #15 of 59
I've also enjoyed using paperbackswap.com. You still have to pay for shipping, but it can be worth it if you find something you've been wanting.
post #16 of 59
Thread Starter 
Swagbuck? What is this?
post #17 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
Swagbuck? What is this?
It's a search engine, like Google. However, during random searches you are doing, you win 'swagbucks' kinda like those raffle tickets at arcades. They recently changed the rules by adding an extra zero to everything (so when I used to win 1 swagbuck, I now win 10). After a certain amount of swagbucks are accumulated, you can trade the in for lots of stuff. After 450 sb I cash in to get a $5 amazon gift card.

Ami
post #18 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookiePie View Post
Always think ahead, buying things on clearance & stashing them for birthdays or Christmas
I think this is a great point, but I wanted to point out a pitfall that happened to me. I bought something that was at a good price far ahead of time for this past Christmas. It turned out that it was defective. It was a pair of shoes for dd, and the sole fell off (Nike tennis shoes) of one of them after she wore them the first time in gym. When I tried to return them, they wouldn't accept them because the purchase was >90 days.

In general, I totally believe in this tip, but also caveat emptor that if you have to return items bought ahead for upcoming events, that they may not be "returnable" because of the policy. Just putting out that info in case someone has not thought of it.
post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
I think this is a great point, but I wanted to point out a pitfall that happened to me. I bought something that was at a good price far ahead of time for this past Christmas. It turned out that it was defective. It was a pair of shoes for dd, and the sole fell off (Nike tennis shoes) of one of them after she wore them the first time in gym. When I tried to return them, they wouldn't accept them because the purchase was >90 days.

In general, I totally believe in this tip, but also caveat emptor that if you have to return items bought ahead for upcoming events, that they may not be "returnable" because of the policy. Just putting out that info in case someone has not thought of it.
...and you risk the fact that it might become forgotten or not the right size during the right season, etc.. Personally, it's not a practice I routinely partake in.
post #20 of 59
If you aren't already vegetarian, eat vegetarian meals a few days a week. Tofu & beans are generally MUCH cheaper than meat. Both are also very versitile.

I am also finding that actually spending a little MORE on my groceries & buying quality foods that my family likes rather than going cheap, cheap, cheap all the time keeps us eating at home more & eating out less. Even splurging on frozen convenience items occassionally has really made a difference.

Price comparing & shopping for different items at the stores with the best price. However, this only works if the stores are close to you or eachother. If you have to drive all over the city it doesn't actually save any money & could actually cost more in gas.
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